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What is Continuous Integration in DevOps?

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Continuous Integration

DevOps is a set of  process change of integrating  people, process, and products to deliver ongoing value to the end user. Typically DevOps implies Development and Operations which work in a smooth flow to achieve efficiency. In a nutshell DevOps practices include agile planning, continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous delivery, continuous deployment, and continuous monitoring of an application.

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What is Continuous Integration?

Continuous Integration (CI) is the practise of automating the build and testing of code when developers integrate the code and share it across the repository. The changes in the code are sent to the repository and tracked using the version controls once after every task is completed. The changes in the code are pulled from the shared repository, tested and validated to the main branch which is  also called as trunk or master branch. 
 
Continuous Integration utilises a centralized server which continuously monitors and  pulls in the changes done in the source code. When a failure or error occurs its easy for the development team as they are a part of the built from the initial stages, identifying the bug and fixing the build is the developer’s responsibility before he makes further enhancements in the code.  The most important advantage of continuous integration is, finding errors becomes easier. Since all the changes reflect clearly,  pinpointing a specific change is quick  to identify. 

How CI Improves Effiency?

Why CI is considered as best Practise?

CI is considered as a best practice as developers work across various time zones and continents, the code changes need to integrate with the rest of the team’s code base.  Waiting for long interrupts the workflow, has more chances of losing the team’s momentum, causes delay in work and delivery resulting in conflicts, making it hard to identify the bugs etc. CI needs the code to be incorporated continuously to share the control repository to overcome these issues.

Continuous Integration prevents  disconnects and  minimizes risk in software development.  

Adopting the DevOps culture, Continuous Integration has been widely accepted practice for software development. The most popular ones are revision control, build automation and automated testing. Continuous Integration doesn’t assure that the application is free of bugs but makes the process of identifying easier while in the development phase. Identifying defects at early stages is easy and less expensive to fix. The automated test results run for every build to ensure its bug free and maintains high standard quality. 

Related Page: Top 10 DevOps Tools for Continuous Integration

“DevOps is an extension of Agile..  works on the principle of taking  real-time feedback from the end user, SME and development team to constantly improve and deliver excellence.”

CI ensures that the main or the master branch is clean. DevOps teams can consider using version control tools like Git to monitor the workflow. When a developer has a pull request, after approval of the request, the code enhancements are pulled into the master branch, and the developer can discard the previous feature branch changes. The process is repetitive and DevOps team maintain branch policies so that the master branch maintains the desired quality. 
 
Also continuous Deployment and Continuous Delivery are adapted as the best practices to deploy the application at any stage of development or moving the code into the production environment when new changes reflect. This practise allows stable workflow and allows faster deliver without compromising on the quality. 

 

Continuous Integration Vs Continuous Deployment Vs Continuous Delivery

Process Flow Of Continuous Integration

Continuous Deployment

Content Deployment is the process where the product deployment can be done at any stage, provided it has passed the automated tests. It can be deployed to the production either automatically or with minimal human interaction.

Related Page: List of Deployment DevOps Tools

Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery is a practice of the  software engineering method in where the flow of continuous integration, automated testing, and continuous deployment process ensures that the software application is stable, faster deployment, secure and less scope of risk.

Advantages of Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration is advantageous as it gets quicker feedback allowing greater scope to rectify the errors and fixing it at the earliest, thus enhancing the speed and workflow performance. It pushes the team forward without having the worry of any breakdowns. Let’s look at some of the benefits of CI. 

Reduces Risk

The more you test and deploy code, there are fewer chances of risk creeping in which minimizes the threat of breaking and early bug detection and code defects. The earlier the bug is identified the cheaper it is to fix a bug and allows a flawless  communication. 

Better Communication

Selecting the CI tools as per the needs helps achieve smooth flow of continuous delivery and its easier to share the base code across the team on a regular basis. When the changed code is shared across the team it results in improved visibility making it clear in terms of communication and consistency so that all the team members are in the same workflow. 
 
Faster iterations

When you release code on a regular basis, there are less dots connecting  between the application in development and the one in production. Every small change in the code is tested and the changes reflect amongst the whole team. The team can refer these changes when making future enhancements or developing new features for an application. By practising so, there’s less scope for any guess work, you can get assured feedback at the earliest and you can develop the code and deploy at a faster rate. 

Faster feedback on business decisions

CI helps software developers to stay committed with the central team repository and be informed when there is any code breakdown. It’s helpful for the managers as they can get the feedback  and insights faster. When the code is deployed at a faster rate, there remains more free space available to keep a track if the product is heading in the right direction. The workflow and time constraint metrics allow easy tracing of the project status and improve the quality of the output. 

Few Takeaways of using CI and CD

  1. Lesser  burden on the development and deployment process
  2. Takes less time to integrate as there is continuous feedback and immediate cox fix. 
  3. Helps get quick feedback to implement changes. 
  4. Early bug rectification is better, cheaper and easier to fix. 
  5. It ensures a smooth workflow between the development and operations team members ensuring improved work progress. .  
  6. Involves minimal human intervention.  

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Best Continuous Integration Tools

There exist several CI tools, depending on the requirement the tools can be selected. Some of the CI Tools include: Jenkins, Codeship, Bamboo etc. 

Continuous Integration Best Practices

Build Automation

In CI we create such an  environment in where the  production goes live with a single click.  This test  automation is done in the similar way till the software application moves to the production environment.

Main code repository 

In CI, we hold the branch that has the ready code which can be sent to production or can be deployed at any stage. 

Self testing build

Every build in CI must be self tested, ensuring that every build has the tests which reflect changes that are meaningful and have high quality changes. 

Everyday commits to base line

Developers will commit all of their changes  on a regular basis.  Its to make sure that there is no pending code which needs to be integrated to the server over a long period. 

Build every commit to base line 

With  automated continuous integration everytime a commitment is made into baseline a build is triggered. It ensures that all the changes are integrated in the right way.   

Frequently asked Devops Interview Questions

Conclusion

DevOps is the integration of development and operations team which focuses on  continuous testing, continuous automation, on going workflow, with quicker delivery and ability to deploy secure applications and robust pipelines. Its achieved by implementing practices of Continuous Delivery as a control structure for achieving quality software applications that are in line with the compliance policies.

 


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